Archive of ‘Writing’ category

Walking for Gold – Serendipity

Do you enjoy the concept of serendipity? – ‘the discovery of desirable but unsought for discoveries’.

Often the discoveries come as welcome and remarkable surprises.

Sometimes they are even connected to your current life situation, family history or your work.

Recently, within 24 hours, I came across two people whose families had a direct connection to the children’s historical novel I’m working on with Walker Books.

The story, Walking for gold, is set in the mid-eighteen hundreds when more than 16,000 Chinese braved the voyage to South Australia. They then walked approximately 500 kms from the South Australian port of Robe to the Victorian goldfields, carrying all their belongings in baskets hung from poles across their shoulders, or pushing them in wooden barrows.

Chinese-walking-to-goldfields well

One night, I sat next to a Iady whose Chinese ancestors had made the trek from Robe to Ballarat, as do the characters in my manuscript. At one point, she said that her ancestors had ‘Anglicised their Chinese name,’ probably hoping it would aid assimilation.

Then the following morning, my chiropractor mentioned that her family owned a property in the south-east of South Australia. ‘My father told me the Chinese must’ve walked through our property in the early days,’ she said. ‘And I remember there was an old well it and lots of broken Chinese artifacts and coins about.’


I wrote the fictionalised story of Yong, a twelve-year-old Chinese character and his father from the comfort of my own home.

Those like Yong, his father and thousands of others were the ones who made the history, enduring great hardships in their struggle to find gold.

It was great to hear the two serendipitous snippets. Somehow it helped to humanize the thousands of nameless faces and made connections over time.


Have you experienced any serendipitous situations? Were any connected to a particular situation or project?


It’s a wonderful thing when your book is selected to be read by children as part of the incredible Readers Cup.

I was even more thrilled when my historical novel, That Boy, Jack was one of the books chosen for the state finals in Queensland, held at the Brisbane Writers’ Festival in September, 2014.


Check out all the results here.

That Boy, Jack was read by 18 teams of 4 or 5 students, and, according to coordinator, Jenny Stubbs, she ‘talked to kids at one school and they really liked Jack.’

Here’s a pic of the overall Readers Cup winners; Pacific Paradise SS Winners Sunshine Coast Region with author, Cathy Jinks.

What a happy, healthy, clever bunch of Aussie kids!


An Update in 5 Easy Steps.

Hi. It’s been a while since I’ve checked in. So, here’s what I’ve been up to lately.

1. Research

Researching and writing a children’s historical novel based on the journey of the Chinese, walking from Robe in the south-east of South Australia to the goldfields of Victoria. (Working title, The long, golden road – to be published by Walker Books.)



2. Books

Our Village in the Sky

A picture-poetry book, published by Allen & Unwin, illustrated by Anne Spudvilas.

  • Launch: Mildura Arts Festival, Artvault. Saturday July 19th at 3pm.
  • Workshop: Poetry and Art, with Janeen and Anne; Artvault, Mildura. Sunday 20th July. 2.00-4.30pm.
  • Launch: Immanuel Primary School, Novar Gardens, South Australia. Friday August 1st
  • Reading & Signing: Collins Bookshop, Castle Plaza, Edwardstown, South Australia. Saturday, August 2nd. 1pm.


Where’s Annie?

Picture book, published by National Library of Australia, illustrated by Anne Spudvilas.

  • Due for release: 2015

Silly Squid

Picture-poetry book, published by Omnibus/Scholastic, illustrated by Cheryll Johns. (a sea-sequel to Silly Galah)

  • Due for release: 2015

I’m a hungry dinosaur

Picture book, published by Penguin Group Australia, illustrated by Ann James. (a sequel to I’m a dirty dinosaur) Due for release: 2015

Vaska, the very old ghost

Short story for anthology, Stories for 6 year olds. published by Random House.

3. Other special bits and pieces:


  • Wrote words for a dance performance created for babies aged 4- 18 months, choreographed by Sally Chance Dance. Opened at Out the Box festival for children in Brisbane, Queensland, June 24, 2014. Will be travelling to Melbourne and Perth and in Adelaide for the Come Out Festival, 2015.

I’m a dirty dinosaur

  • Picture book, published by Penguin Group Australia, illustrated by Ann James.
  • Shortlisted for 2014 CBCA (Children’s Book Council of Australia) awards, Early Childhood category.
  • Published in USA by Kane Miller Publishers.
  • Published in China by Oriental babies and kids Ltd.
  • Short reading on television program, Home and Away, Thursday 19th June.
  • Selected for Get Reading scheme 2013. (50 Books you can’t put down.)
  • That Boy, Jack – Children’s historical novel, published by Walker Books, 2013.

Notable Award in 2014 CBCA awards. Too tight, Benito Picture book, published by Little Hare, to be published by KZIM publishers in Korea, 2015.

4. Conferences:

  • Attended Children’s Book Council of Australia conference in Canberra, in May, 2014.

5. Workshops:

  • One of 14 Australian writers/illustrators taking part in Meet the Writers in the Adelaide Convention Centre, Thursday, June 19th, 2014.
  • Along with Jacqueline Harvey and Mike Dumbleton, spoke at Ardtornish School, South Australia, with Random House publishers, for SLASA (School Library Association of South Australia)

That’s it for now! Till next time. Love to hear from you.

1 2 3